Today, I am going to take an in depth look at the Northeast division.
Key additions: Rob Niedermayer, Jordan Leopold, and Shaone Morrison
Key losses: Raffi Torres, Tim Kennedy, Toni Lydman, Henrik Tallinder, and Adam Mair
Up front the Sabres lose two bruisers who can play both ends of the ice in Torres and Mair; however, they did add Rob Niedermayer who can shut down opponents top line as well as put up some points from time to time. The biggest reason Niedermayer was brought over to the Buffalo Sabres is the fact that he brings a ton of experience and a cup ring to the team.
On defense I like what the Sabres have done. They lost two solid two-way defenseman in Tallinder and Lydman but replaced them with Leopold and Morrison. With the addition of Jordan Leopold the Sabres brought in some help for the powerplay which is much needed as at some points last season, Steve Montador was running the second powerplay unit. Simply put, that is not good enough. Leopold will also take some pressure off Tyler Myers as now he is not the only Sabres defenseman who has good offensive skills.
I really like the addition of Shaone Morrison. He is a tough physical stay at home defenseman who is willing to drop the gloves. He will bring leadership, experience and a physical presence to the Sabres defense.
In goal the Sabres did not make any moves and will go with Vezina winner Ryan Miller and veteran backup Patrick Lalime between the pipes this season.
Overall the Sabres roster is not better or worse in my opinion, if Thomas Vanek can stay healthy the Sabres should repeat as the Northeast division winner.
Expectation: 1st in the division
Key additions: Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin (maybe)
Key losses: Dennis Wideman, Miroslav Satan, Steve Begin and Vladimir Sobotka
Up front the Bruins are a lot better. They lost a solid player in Miroslav Satan and two depth forwards in Begin and Sobotka but they added two highly skilled forwards.
In Nathan Horton they added an elite goal-scorer in which they had a huge need for since they traded Phil Kessel to the Maple Leafs. Horton struggled last season in Florida but with a change of scenery and players like Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and possibly Tyler Seguin around him he should excel and show the NHL the player he can be.
We all know that if Seguin makes the team (like expected) he will be a solid player who can play well on both sides of the ice. He will likely begin the season on the wing but could find himself playing center at some point this season.
On defense the Bruins lost a solid offensive defenseman in Dennis Wideman and did not make any additions.
Like on defense the Bruins did not make any changes to their goaltending situation, like last year they will go with Rask and Thomas except this year Rask will be the starter from day one.
I like the Bruins additions this year but I still don't think they are better than the Sabres; however, it should be an interesting race to watch.
Expectation: 2nd in the division
Key additions: Lars Eller, Dustin Boyd, and Alex Auld
Key losses: Jaroslav Halak, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Glen Metropolit, Sergei Kostitsyn, Dominic Moore, and Paul Mara
Up front the Canadiens lost a lot of depth with guys like Dominic Moore, Glen Metropolit and Sergei Kostitsyn but they did add two solid forwards in Dustin Boyd and Lars Eller.
Lars Eller brings a lot of skill and offense to a team that is filled with it. Eller like most Canadiens forwards is small and full of offensive talent. Eller is expected to make the team and play a prominent role with the team. Hopefully for his sake he does indeed make the roster this year as we was the key piece the Canadiens received in return and the fans will be all over him if he doesn't make the team and produce this year.
I really like the addition of Dustin Boyd, he is a good defensive forward who is filled with character. Boyd can play the PK and will give a 100% effort every time he is on the ice. Boyd will play a prominent role in keeping the Canadiens penalty kill among the top 15 in the league (they were 12th last season).
In goal Alex Auld is a very good addition, he doesn't complain if he doesn't get much ice and he is a great guy to have on the team. He is a very experienced goaltender who is capable playing 5-10 games in a row if Carey Price went down to injury.
Expectation: 3rd in the division
Toronto Maple Leafs
Key additions: Kris Versteeg, Colby Armstrong, Mike Brown, Marcel Mueller, and Brett Lebda
Key losses: Viktor Stalberg, and Rickard Wallin
I really like what the Leafs have done with their forwards. They lost a solid player in Viktor Stalberg and a decent forward in Rickard Wallin but overall they are a much better group. In Kris Versteeg they added a top-six forward who knows how to put the puck in the net. He will also take some pressure off Phil Kessel which could be a big time payoff. It is also worth noting that Versteeg brings a Stanley Cup ring to a team who hasn't won a cup in over 40 years.
With the addition of Colby Armstrong the Leafs added a bruiser who can play against teams top lines as well as put the puck in the net. In my opinion Colby Armstrong is capable of scoring 20-25 goals and netting 75-100 PIMS. The thing I really like about Armstrong is that he can play the PK and PP and doesn't complain whether you use him on the third line or the second line.
With the additions of Mike Brown and Marcel Mueller they added two solid defensive forwards who bring a physical presence to the bottom-six group of the Maple Leafs.
On defense the Leafs added a very solid two-way defenseman in Brett Lebda. Lebda is a very solid player on both ends of the ice and is one of the best skating players in the league. Lebda also brings experience and a Stanley Cup ring to a young Leafs team.
In net like many teams the Leafs have kept their group from the end of last season. They will go with "Giggy" and "The Monster" in goal this season. If you ask me that is a solid tandem as they are both skilled goaltenders and will push each other to be better.
You may think I am nuts for thinking the Maple Leafs will finish ahead of the Senators but I truly believe that this team is stepping in the right direction.
Whether the Leafs make the playoffs or not we don't know, but what we do know is that the Leafs will be competitive this season and could push for a playoff spot.
Expectation: 4th in the division
Key additions: Sergei Gonchar
Key losses: Matt Cullen, Anton Volchenkov and Andy Sutton
Up front the Senators will go with the same group as they had last season which is not good in my opinion. The Senators are one of those teams that seems to struggle scoring goals and with the addition of well, nobody up front they will score many more goals this season than last.
On defense, the Senators lost two very solid defensive defenseman in Anton Volchenkov and Andy Sutton; however, they did make a nice addition in Sergei Gonchar.
No doubt Gonchar will provide more offense to a team that struggles to put the puck in the net. Gonchar will also take some pressure off young defenseman like Erik Karlsson which will help them develop; however, with the Senators lack of established defensive defenseman they will and average goaltenders they could find themselves fishing the puck out of there net more than they expect.
In goal they stayed pat, they will go with Pascal Leclaire and Brian Elliot between the pipes just like last season. In my opinion those are two very streaky goaltenders and sometimes they go ice cold for a while. If that is the case don't expect much from the Senators this season.
All in all the Senators have a good team but nothing better than that. They will probably be close to making the playoffs but I can't see them getting there.
Expectation: 5th in the division
This concludes my in depth look at the Northeast division, enjoy.
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